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Wednesday 24 April 2013

Phonetics: /eə/

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In British English the phonetic symbol /eə/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "hair" and "wear". It is a long vowel sound, this is called a diphthong. 

Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /eə/ include the following:
  • with "ar":  bare - care - dare - fare - hare - rare - scare - share - spare - square;
  • with "air":  air - chair - fair - hair - pair - stairs;
  • with "ear":  bear - swear - tear - wear;
  • homophones: air/heir - bear/bare - hair/hare - pear/pair - their/there/they're - there's/theirs - where/wear/ware (as in software).

When using words containing this vowel sound, Spanish speakers tend to confuse it with /ɪə/ or /ɜ:/
i.e. without practice, they tend not to distinguish between "beer" and "bear". And tear vs tear really irritates them.

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